small businesses

San Diego Small Businesses Vexed By Inflation, Supply-Chain Woes

Robolink in Sorrento Valley keeps rolling with the punches

NBC Universal, Inc.

Everything costs more and it takes longer to get it — that’s the frustrating reality for thousands of small business owners throughout California.

“It’s painful,” Robolink co-founder and CEO Hansol Hong said with a sigh.

Before the pandemic, the Sorrento Valley-based educational company thrived by placing its curriculum in more than 1,000 school across the country. Robolink uses robots and drones to teach children how to code. The pandemic, however, steamrolled their momentum.

“Our sales went all the way to zero,” Hong said, grimacing.

A return to classrooms in 2021 got the wheels rolling again, but then supply-chain issues and inflation once again made things very difficult for businesses like Robolink.

Hong said that what used to take one month to ship can now take up to three months. He said the cost of paying for those items has also skyrocketed.

“The raw cost has gone up five times,” Hong said. “Some of the pieces? 15 times [more expensive].”

Despite the pandemic and the challenges of 2021, Hong said, Robolink is powering through.

“Everyone’s going through a hard time right now," Hong said. "Nothing we can do. We’re just trying to be positive.”

Here, Hong allowed himself a smile.

“I think what keeps us going is all the excited teachers and students that we can teach," Hong said. "So, it gets us going.”

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